Relationships are vital to our emotional and physical health. We need to find ways to get connected to another human being who will support us. Moreso, if the connections with our family of origin are toxic and painful. Our well-being depends on the bonds we share with other people. We should try and overcome our sense of isolation and loneliness and try and find ways of meeting our need to bond with like-minded people. Being on the same page with a fellow human is very satisfying and healing.
When we form caring human connections, oxytocin and vasopressin are secreted in our bloodstream these chemicals help to counter stress and repair our emotional and physical wounds.
The last one year I have been living a kind of nomadic life. Traveling, volunteering, visiting friends, blogging and learning to use social media. It has been exhilarating and liberating. Even though all the connections have not been positive, I am grateful for the experiences.
Meeting varied people and forming new connections have helped me heal and grow. I’ve become a more tolerant as a person. I no longer feel judgemental or feel the need to fit. And I no longer feel alone.
Small Talk is Good
I have always found small talk tedious and a waste of time. However, when one is traveling and volunteering, small talk is essential to connect with your new environment. You are obliged to talk about the weather, your outfit and the other inane things. It is a challenge to the brain, to be able to get past the initial awkwardness. Then like a magical gate being flung open, your defenses are down and you delight in the other’s presence. Studies have shown that getting to know a stranger can improve mental function and memory.
The Village Effect
I grew up in a small village everyone knew whose kid you were. I remember once when I was 7 years old, my family had to go to a relative’s funeral. Even after my mother telling me to my grandmother’s house after class, I panicked when I saw my house locked. It was a kindly neighbor who took me to my grandmother’s home. This experience profoundly affected my innate sense that the world is a good place. Someone out there will turn up to help
Psychologist, Susan Pinker in her book The Village Effect elucidates the benefits of maintaining connections to our neighbors, the shop-keepers, newsagents and even the local bus drivers. According to her, the secret to her father’s longevity was that he continued to see people he knew and liked daily. Pinker states that loneliness alters the expression of our genes in every cell of our bodies. Lack of connection negatively affects our DNA. This leads to chronic health problems and early death.
The secret to living longer may be your social life | Susan Pinker
Volunteer To Get High
Volunteering is one of the best ways to meet like-minded people. You can be assured that there is some common ground to connect. Sharing similar likes and dislikes with someone is emotionally very soothing. It’s like being in a safe zone. You don’t need to try and figure out whether you are compatible. You start out with knowing you share some common interests. Numerous studies have shown that volunteering lowers depression, increases self-esteem, and improves your overall cognitive ability. When we connect to others in a shared activity our brains release dopamine, serotonin, and other hormones that make you feel warm and tingly inside, we experience a drugless high.
The Market Connection
I love going to the local market once a week. Visiting my regular vegetable vendor wherein the mutuality of our interaction is rewarding. The pleasure of getting a good bargain and the satisfaction of making a sale. It is a connection of respect and gratitude. I find going to the market to purchase food items a stress-buster since there is a wide choice you can just move on to the next vendor. You are not stuck, you have the freedom to move on. The haggling over the prices and general small talk makes me feel good. This no pressure connect is something I just savor. It is these normal, everyday, simple connections that have helped me retain my sense of reality while I healed from Complex-PTSD.
Connecting Through World Wide Web
Without the internet, I don’t think I would have understood what was happening to me. Tentatively at first, I reached out to people going through similar experiences. Furthermore, having my experiences validated and understood has given me the connection I craved for. Belonging to a tribe of fellow survivors, that one is not alone, that one is not crazy. Those e-connections have been my life-line.
Open To Chance
Starting a conversation and connecting with someone you don’t know is all about taking chances. It’s a 50-50 possibility that you will be reciprocated. Getting out of our comfort zone can be terrifying. The challenges are many but eventually, you learn how to overcome your inhibitions and your conditioned lifestyle.
Further, you need leave aside the judgment and be open to possibilities. For me, there have been a few bad connections but I also become friends with some wonderful people who helped me break out of my negative mindset and move into a whole new paradigm of wonder, gratitude, and joy.
How To Start A Conversation And Make Friends by Don Gabor
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie